Dealing with Stress (The Self Inflicted Kind)

Stress plagues a lot of us… doesn’t it? Especially in today’s fast paced environment where we’re trying to squeeze out more and more productivity in the same amount of time.

In the course of my day it seems that a good portion of people that I talk with appear to be stressed about something or another. Sometimes it’s a small thing, other times it’s something big. Quite often that stress appears to hang with them day after day… wearing away at their outlook and ultimately robbing them of their joy.

Now, I’m talking more about mental stress here than the physical kind (the physical is like what might happen if we were being chased by a lion or a ravenous monkey, which most of us don’t have to endure.). Physical stress is a different beast entirely.

The mental stuff though…

I believe a majority of it is self inflicted.

It’s what happens when we…

  • Worry too much about things that really, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t that important.
  • Create a false sense of urgency around things that really aren’t that urgent at all.
  • Take ourselves or our positions too seriously and make more out of things than they are.
  • Let circumstances, that we can’t control, overwhelm us when there is not much we can do.
  • Choose to be blinded by problems rather than look for opportunities.
  • Let others get under our skin and change us with their negativity.
  • Try to force things to happen when it’s just not their right time.
  • Forget that all things happen for a reason.

The list goes on and on (feel free to add some of your own by commenting on this post).

The real issue has to do with two things… Choice and Perspective.

While we may not be able to control all of the events or circumstances that occur in our lives, we can choose how we respond. And, that response stems from the choice of the perspective we decide to see.

Side story…

Several years ago I was leaving a job I had at the time. It was late. I was tired. I went to put my keys in the door of my car and dropped them. They rolled under the car and I had to spend the next few minutes trying to crawl under, in the dark, and find them. Eventually I did but I was upset. The delay made me angry, irritable and elevated my stress.

As I drove home I approached an intersection only to witness the car a few hundred yards ahead of me get t-boned by another driver who blatantly ran a red light.

After checking on the drivers and realizing everyone was mostly okay, minus the mangled cars… I reflected on the situation and realized that had I not dropped my keys and been delayed by a few minutes… I would have likely been the one crossing the intersection at the exact time the red-light-runner blazed through.

My stress was quickly replaced with thanksgiving and a realization that I had a choice when I dropped my keys… to let it get to me and ruin my night or see it as a gift that potentially kept me from harm.

The point holds true for just about anything else we encounter throughout our day or within our lives.

You can choose to let that stress turn into a self inflicted wound or you can see it in another way… a way that gives you peace. No one else can make the choice for you. It’s up to you and it’s a choice you GET TO make.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • God has mysterious ways of taking care of us! We should give him the glory because you weren't in that bad accident.

    • Thanks Lisa. I thank God daily (multiple times per day) for how amazing He is. That's a big part of anti-stress too. Trusting God and knowing that He has a plan.

  • Perspective is so important. I took my 16 year-old son on a Mission trip to Honduras last week. It was great for both of us to see people who struggle to feed themselves instead of worrying about which restaurant we are going to dinner tonight.

    • Agreed. When we don't have perspective it's easy to get stressed about things that don't really matter.